It’s all in a question!

What needs to change?

“What needs to change?”
That’s an interesting question and one I use a lot when working with my coaching clients.

It’s one of those questions that at first sight seems easy to answer but on closer inspection reveals itself to be rather more complex. It serves as the opening gambit for a much deeper level of reflection, awareness and understanding.

I have noticed how effective this question is whoever my client may be, whatever their background and whichever language they speak. I coach in both English and French and the question works equally well in both languages! For my French-speaking clients the question “Qu’est-ce qu’il faut changer” always brings that pause, that intake of breath, that gazing upwards…just as it does for my English-speaking clients.

What makes it such a powerful question?
So, why is “What needs to change?” such a powerful question? Why does it provoke such immediate thought?

I believe it is rooted in the way we perceive the concept of change. We tend to view ourselves as ‘victims’ of change rather than ‘authors’ of change; to live change as an imposition rather than actively choosing it.

Consider the following: how many of us embrace change and see it as a positive force for self-fulfilment? How many of us, on the other hand, regard change as a negative influence, something that is destined to cause pain and suffering; something over which we have no control?

As many of you reading this will probably be coaches yourselves or have an interest in coaching, you are probably not a representative audience – but you see what I’m getting at!

What happens?
So, when I ask my clients “What needs to change?”, what happens.

It’s interesting because all of a sudden it’s as if they are in the driving seat and they have the power to decide what or what not to change. It’s no longer something over which they have little control, to which they must succumb and grudgingly accept. Suddenly, it becomes a question of possibilities, positive actions and vision. How liberating is that!

The question is liberating in another way too. It is liberating because of words it doesn’t use. It doesn’t say “What do you need to change?”
If this were the question, I am sure it would be much less effective and my clients would find it much less thought-provoking and stimulating.


Well, we all tend to be limited by our own perceptions of what we are capable or not capable of doing. More often than not, we seriously underestimate our abilities so it is a short step for our subconscious mind to transpose the question from “What do you need to change?”, into “What can you change?”

And we all know the easy answer to that one. Nothing!

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16 Responses to It’s all in a question!

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      November 23, 2010


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      December 8, 2010

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